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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 August 1 - 7  > Workers exploited under Amazon’s glory (Part 2)
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2018 August 1 - 7 [LABOR]

Workers exploited under Amazon’s glory (Part 2)

July 30, 2018

Using an online discussion site called “2Channel (currently 5Channel)”,
workers at e-commerce giant Amazon Japan have been exchanging their work stories and information. Workers at the Amazon Odawara FC warehouse center also set up their own “2Channel” forum. The number of messages posted on the forum exceeded 50,000.

The first death at the Odawara FC aroused heated conversations on the forum in which workers voiced bitter complaints about the harsh working conditions, especially the short rest periods.

Rest hours shortened to 15 minutes from 30 minutes

Here is Odawara FC workers’ comments on the forum on December 29, 2013:

“I heard that a worker died at the warehouse.”
“A night-shift worker in his early 20s.”
“Recently, workloads have become heavier due to shorter rest periods. Take care, everyone!”
“To cut rest periods is reckless. Even for me. I’m in relatively good health, but am really tired from the work.”
“The company’s ‘do nothing unless something happens’ attitude has led to this tragedy. Anti-heatstroke measure is a case in point. Only after many workers suffered from heatstroke, the company finally implemented countermeasures.”

At a time when the Odawara warehousing and shipping center began its operation, the company provided a 30-minute rest break along with a lunch break. Later, it cut the rest break in half. Okawa Akira, who used to work at the facility, said that Amazon shortened the rest period in order to curb the rise in the number of workers. He added, “At the huge Odawara FC, my job was to operate a heavily-laden trolley. I was exhausted, but couldn’t recover from the exhaustion during the 15-minute rest because I have to go long ways to the staff lounge and bathrooms.”

Barely above minimum wage

Normal work hours at the Oadawa FC are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, during busy seasons, workers are requested to arrive for work at 7 a.m. and work overtime. The night shift is from 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. or 6 a.m. in the morning. This is because Amazon operates fulfillment centers 24 hours a day.

Okawa said that according to his sources, the deceased 20-something worker worked during the night shift at the Odawara FC after working at another job in the daytime.

Okawa said, “Despite the hard work, we earn only 900-950 yen an hour, just above the regional minimum wage in Kanagawa. Many workers work more than one job in order to make ends meet. I think the reason why the deceased man chose the nightshift is that the pay rate is higher than in the dayshift.”
(To be continued)

Past related article:
> Workers exploited under Amazon’s glory (Part 1) [July 29, 2018]

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